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Toyota Fine-S Concept hydrogen fuel cell vehicle

Toyota Highlander-based fuel cell vehicle
Toyota expects the market to be small, but avaialble

Toyota is moving forward despite the bad press and recalls and is looking to the future where it may be the first company to offer a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that is “affordable”. Toyota is targeting a price of $50,000 for its first retail hydrogen fuel vehicle. Bloomberg reports that the $50,000 figure reflects a 90% reduction in cost for hydrogen fuel cell technology since the mid-2000s.

The first hydrogen powered vehicle would be a sedan with a range equal to that of a gas-powered car. Toyota's Yashihiko Masuda, managing director for advanced automobiles said, "[The hydrogen vehicle would compare to gasoline vehicles] with some added cost."

Masuda said, "Our target is, we don’t lose money with introduction of the vehicle. Production cost should be covered within the price of the vehicle."

Toyota won't talk about how many of the vehicles it expects to sell. Masuda told
Bloomberg that the market would be small, but would have some support. The support would likely be mostly from local and state governments.

The biggest issue facing the adoption of hydrogen-powered vehicles isn’t the cost of buying the vehicles. The big issue is the fact that there is little to no infrastructure to speak of across the country. Most hydrogen fuel station are located in California, and even within California, there are but a handful. Hydrogen also currently costs much more than gasoline.

One of the cost cutting methods that Toyota used to help bring down the price of hydrogen vehicles was to use less platinum on the fuel cell construction. The automaker will reduce the platinum used in fuel cells from about 1.06 ounces per vehicle to the area of 10 grams per vehicle. The price for platinum now is about $1,675 per ounce.

Toyota isn't the only company looking at hydrogen vehicles, GM already has hydrogen powered vehicles in use that are leased to retail customers in the Los Angeles area.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and we can have it forever. We need to wake up the federal government."

Before GM starts retail sales in California, the automaker wants at least 40 hydrogen fuel stations in the Southern California area -- currently there are ten. GM believes that 40 stations could support 15 million drivers in the region.


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News Flash: May 6, 2011
By Lord 666 on 5/7/2010 9:47:00 AM , Rating: 1
There have been reports of Toyota hydrogen vehicles exploding into huge fireballs.

More at 11.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By HotFoot on 5/7/2010 10:21:22 AM , Rating: 2
Gasoline vapour is much more dangerous than hydrogen.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By Lord 666 on 5/7/2010 10:23:36 AM , Rating: 2
History has a habit of repeating itself...

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By HotFoot on 5/7/2010 10:39:07 AM , Rating: 1
Which history? I'm hard-pressed to recall an incident in which hydrogen was a major contributing factor.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By Hieyeck on 5/7/2010 10:41:44 AM , Rating: 3
QFT. Hindenberg deaths was caused mostly from diesel fire and falls.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By Lord 666 on 5/7/2010 11:00:54 AM , Rating: 2
Your kidding right? If a Toyota hydrogen car bursts into flames and crashes, the cause of death will be more than likely blunt trama or burns. However the root cause would be the hydrogen.

Same thing would happen if you keep smoking that crack; the cause of death would be a heart attack, but the root cause is your drug habit.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By HotFoot on 5/7/2010 11:32:24 AM , Rating: 1
There are a lot of theories as to what actually caused the fire to break out on the Hindenburg. A hydrogen gas fire is one of the least plausible, in my opinion. Hydrogen-air mixture is only combustible within a certain range of concentration, and explosive within a very small range of concentrations. Hydrogen gas diffuses at a phenomenal rate compared to heavier molecules, such as those that make up gasoline or diesel. A hydrogen leak has a very small risk of causing a fire or explosion compared to other fuels.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By porkpie on 5/7/2010 11:43:12 AM , Rating: 3
"Hydrogen-air mixture is [only] explosive within a very small range of concentrations"

This isn't correct:

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By HotFoot on 5/7/2010 11:51:04 AM , Rating: 2
Excellent reference. I'm going to keep a copy of that for work. We've also had a good deal of debate about the placement of H2 purge interfaces. I'm arguing that, other than very locally to where a leak/ruptured tank is, the H2 purge interfaces don't necessarily need to be high up in a room, because I'm under the impression that only concentrations of H2 will tend to rise. On the other hand, diluted H2 I think will need to be purged from the whole volume. This is compared to our more normal heavy-fuel vapour purge interfaces, which we place lower in the room.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By cpeter38 on 5/7/2010 12:16:09 PM , Rating: 2
However, the definition of "explosion" in the various tests in that study is that the flame propagates. While that may be a nice experimental way to define an "explosion", I have a hard time equating that with a real explosion.

There are only two things that concern me about atmospheric hydrogen combustion:
1. The flame is very difficult to visually detect.
2. If there is a large amount in a contained space (such as a blimp full of hydrogen), the oxidation event could cause a significant pressure wave.

Here are a few things that make me feel much more safe about hydrogen powered vehicles:
1. The amount of energy contained in 1 kg of hydrogen is about the same as 1 gallon of gas. The typical hydrogen powered vehicle has significantly less than 10 kg of hydrogen when completely full (the long range of fuel cell vehicles is possible because the conversion to mechanical energy is MUCH more efficient than gasoline to mechanical energy).
2. If all safety systems failed and there were a fire, hydrogen fires radiate very little energy. There is almost no damage if the flame does not directly contact something else.
3. Hydrogen does not stay in the local area unless it is intentionally contained with engineered components. It is actually very difficult to keep hydrogen contained. Typically, precision machined components and seals are required. Therefor, any leak would rapidly dissipate into the atmosphere.
4. The safety systems on FCVs are much better that the safety systems on conventional cars.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By porkpie on 5/7/2010 1:58:49 PM , Rating: 2
"However, the definition of "explosion" in the various tests in that study is that the flame propagates"

Deflagration vs. detonation, to be precise. That's how all lower/upper explosivity limits are defined, even for gasoline. Still, a confined deflagation generates enormous pressures, and even an unconfined one can break 100psi.

If you prefer to work off detonation limits, they are, for H2, 18-59%, whereas gasoline operates at 1.1-3%. For H2, an unconfined detonation can generate an order of magnitude higher overpressures.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By geddarkstorm on 5/7/2010 1:24:51 PM , Rating: 1
Actually, reading that paper shows just how safe hydrogen is over gasoline!

The explosion pressure ratio to starting pressure conditions, at the highest, most explosive hydrogen point of 35% hydrogen, was only 8. That means, the pressure went up by 8x in the vessel over what it was set at originally. 8 atm by the way is only 117 PSI.

Moreover, the higher the operating temperature, the lower the explosive pressure. Higher storage pressure of the hydrogen also decreases the range at which hydrogen can be explosive, albeit not by much.

Finally, they used high voltage to spark the hydrogen (except one test which used a fusing, exploding, wire). And, since hydrogen has nearly 3000x less energy per volume as liquid gasoline in calorific measure (that is, explosive potential in this study), you are hardly going to get even a fizzle out of it relatively compared to the gasoline you cart around in your vehicle.

Really, the only "explosive" danger of hydrogen is the sudden decompression of a hydrogen storage tank. Furthermore, unlike gasoline, hydrogen isn't going to sit around and burn for a prolonged period of time since it'll diffuse. And it's that constant fire that is really what's dangerous to a person anyways. Hydrogen will be a flash and a bang, and that's about it., at worst. Only if it ignites some other source is it truly dangerous (or again, a really really high pressure storage tank explosively decompressing would also be extremely dangerous).

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By porkpie on 5/7/2010 1:53:18 PM , Rating: 3
"That means, the pressure went up by 8x in the vessel"

I'm sorry, but it doesn't work the way you think it does. Explosion overpressures are low for pretty much all flammable fluids and gases....they only "explode" if they're contained. This is in direct contrast to the so-called "high explosives", which do not need containment to generate a large explosive force.

Gasoline's explosive pressure is actually about 80% lower than that of H2. H2 is higher than gasoline, and about 4X higher than something like propane or methane.

"since hydrogen has nearly 3000x less energy per are hardly going to get even a fizzle"

That isn't the proper comparison, as the lower volumetric energy density at STP means you must compress much more H2 into a given volume. Hydrogen actually has higher energy per unit mass...but that isn't a valid comparison either.

The proper way to compare is to calculate the explosive yield per unit stored energy. If you do this, gasoline comes out slightly ahead of H2...but only slightly.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By sleepeeg3 on 5/7/2010 7:16:18 PM , Rating: 1
Hydrogen safe? Think again.

Take a look at the YouTube videos of exploding hydrogen balloons:

My chemistry teacher did this experiment in a small lecture hall with a balloon twice as big. I was about 30 feet away and it was about as loud as a shotgun blast, plus a hot compression wave.

Now imagine an accident and a compressed tank full of that igniting. Body parts everywhere! DailyTech even had an article showing that some companies even want to switch to fragile glass tubes!!!

Safe like the Hindenberg...

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By porkpie on 5/7/2010 10:14:00 PM , Rating: 3
"Take a look at the YouTube videos of exploding hydrogen balloons:"

Try the same experiment with gasoline. Youtube is a poor source for scientific knowledge.

The real facts are this. Gasoline and hydrogen both are far, far safer than the real danger for moving vehicles -- the kinetic energy of the car itself. Arguing over which is safer is essentially like standing on a cliff with vaseline-coated feet, wondering if that splinter in your finger is going to give you a nasty infection.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By geddarkstorm on 5/11/2010 12:42:22 PM , Rating: 2
I was taking from the paper itself directly. Did you see how they were calculating explosive pressure? They used the ratio of pressure during burning of the hydrogen in the container to the normal pressure. So, this is empirical data from the set-ups they had (as artificial as they were). Also, the /paper/ said that gasoline was around 3000x more energy per volume than hydrogen (I'm assuming they meant hydrogen in gas form, and that they are making the comparisons based on their test systems). If you have problems with that, take it up with the paper /you/ posted and the way they did their conclusions/calculations :P. But, I tend to believe empirical data over any other source as long as the methods are good.

Also, explosives are designed to shred apart AT the pressures created by the internal "explosive" event. If they were designed to take that much pressure, there would be no explosion. Scientific equipment is made like so such things can be measured and studied in the first place (as in this study)-- like "bomb" calorimeters.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By Silver2k7 on 5/10/2010 10:33:54 AM , Rating: 2
well if you find a way to put water in the tank, and then slowly on demand split the water into hydogen and oxygen.. then you would have a tank full of water if crashing.

hopefully there are some people working on this.

welding machines wich used water to make a mixture of oxygen and hydrogen wich they called HHO comes to mind.. not sure how fast it made the mixture or how much electricity it takes to make it.. but should be worth looking into.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By porkpie on 5/10/2010 11:33:23 AM , Rating: 2
I don't mean to be rude, but I got a nice chuckle out of this. Splitting water takes energy. If you have that energy on board your car with you, why would you want to make hydrogen with it...just to burn that hydrogen and get only part of that energy back? Just use it directly to power your vehicle.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By wiz220 on 5/7/2010 1:44:05 PM , Rating: 2
Mythbusters did a good special on the Hindenburg and believe that the coating on the skin of the craft caused the amazing fireball.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By porkpie on 5/7/2010 11:34:09 AM , Rating: 3
"Gasoline vapour is much more dangerous than hydrogen."

That's a hard position to support. Hydrogen has a much wider explosive limit. Gasoline can explode in air from 1.5-7.6%, whereas hydrogen can anywhere from 4-75%. Hydrogen also has to be massively compressed to be useful, which makes H2 tanks somewhat dangerous simply from mechanical pressure alone.

On the other hand, H2 is much lighter than air, so a slow leak won't tend to collect like gasoline vapor.

All in all, I'd rate them both about the same. Since the real risk in an accident is from the kinetic energy of the vehicle itself, I'd say that hydrogen-powered vehicles should be no more dangerous than gas-powered ones.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By shin0bi272 on 5/7/2010 11:59:29 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah exactly. some of those tanks are 5000psi... I wouldnt want to puncture one of those in an accident... kaboom!

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By Steve1981 on 5/7/2010 1:14:37 PM , Rating: 2
I'd be curious to know how much of a risk that would be. While the movies make it seem like tanks filled with various gases will explode at the slightest provocation, the Mythbusters certainly had a hard time getting both some CNG tanks to fail ala Bond in Casino Royale, let alone spectacularly fail. Even a rifle firing tracer rounds failed to ignite the CNG tank, although the mini-gun succeeded nicely. While getting slammed by a semi is a bit different than getting shot with a 30-06, I would imagine that the tanks would be engineered appropriately to withstand the stresses expected.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By SpaceJumper on 5/7/2010 12:22:45 PM , Rating: 2
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicle produces a lot of water; I believe it's about 0.5 litter per 1kW-hr. A 100hp equal to 74.6kW, I can imagine wet and icy (winter) road everyday.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By ImJustSaying on 5/7/2010 7:57:51 PM , Rating: 2

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By bingbong on 5/8/2010 4:54:25 AM , Rating: 1
I am currently doing hydrogen storage experiments.
I have had a number of times where large amounts of hydrogen have been vented.
If that was gasoline I would have to close down the lab.
Hydrogen is so light it moves quickly away and diffuses. It is also non toxic so I don't get suffocated. We are currently doing work on gasoline, oil and production chemical tanks. These things put out 4Tonnes of Cancer causing gases a year in just normal operation through small leaks, and cycling of contents. Not to mention the hydrofluoric gas used for synthesis of petroleum products. No doubt oil is useful but given the spill in GOM, we should be moving to hydrogen. Production can come from many forms including direct solar and bacterial produced from biomass.
Think about it. Don't just quote the Hindenburg disaster over and over again.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By porkpie on 5/8/2010 9:08:10 AM , Rating: 2
"These things put out 4Tonnes of Cancer causing gases a year in just normal operation "

Roughly 50% of all chemicals in nature are carcinogenic in a large enough dose...including half of the 1000+ chemicals in a cup of coffee. Trying to scare people into thinking they're getting cancer from gasoline is incredibly foolish.

"No doubt oil is useful but given the spill in GOM, we should be moving to hydrogen"

Do you think hydrogen grows on trees? Currently the only economic method of production is reforming it from fossil fuels. The only thing that comes close to that in cost is a high-temp nuclear reactor using the S-I cycle...but environmentalists won't let us build those either.

Your pipe dream of solar-produced hydrogen results in an equivalent cost to the end user of over $100/gal gas. Do you intentionally want to destroy the economy, or did you simply flunk economics?

Ounces or grams?
By rzrshrp on 5/7/2010 12:45:20 PM , Rating: 5
1.06 ounces per vehicle to the area of 10 grams

You don't switch units mid-sentence. Excuse me while I convert...FYI, 1.06 ounces is about 30 grams.

RE: Ounces or grams?
By Mogounus on 5/7/2010 1:14:06 PM , Rating: 5
I would take it a bit further... there should be no references to ounces or gallons or miles. The whole freaking world is on SI except for us here in the US. Id say its about damn time we got onboard.

the real issue
By shin0bi272 on 5/7/2010 12:14:22 PM , Rating: 2
they touched on this in the article but its bigger than what they made it out to be. The real issue is distribution. If you cant fuel your car anywhere but southern cauleefornea then only southern cauleeforneans will be able to buy these and they wont make a profit or break even on these vehicles. Without increasing the distribution network first hydrogen fuel cell car adoption will be VERY slow if it happens at all.

Think of it like airlines... if the only airplanes are in japan (since its a remote island with limited cash resources) and can only fly to taiwan and china before they run out of fuel but there arent any landing strips in taiwan or china or fuel to refuel the planes and the planes cost 5 million dollars and japan can only afford say 5 in their budget how many people are going to be able to afford to fly on that plane? Will those airlines ever break even? Will flight expand very quickly?

It can lead to a vicious circle where no one will make hydrogen cars because not enough people can buy them. Dont get me wrong I like the hydrogen fuel cell car idea for its ease of refueling, power, and range but without the ability to refuel the thing in my entire half of the country its sort of a paper launch to the rest of us.

Will we be driving hydrogen fuel cell cars in 10 years? not likely. 50 years? Probably, unless we find another technology that can surpass hydrogen in speed of distribution/adoption but that has yet to be found.

My question is how long till the federal government comes in and subsidizes the expansion of hydrogen refueling distribution locations?

RE: the real issue
By Mogounus on 5/7/2010 12:52:58 PM , Rating: 3
No, they did not touch on the "real" issue. That is; where do we get hydrogen from in the first place? Right now the main source of hydrogen is natural gas... makes it a lot less green all of a sudden. Although it can be obtained from electrolysis of water that process is expensive and as it already stands we do not have enough clean electricty to meet our current demands. In order for this to be at all feasable we would have to build so much power infrastructure that it would take 100 years before we can even get through all the litigation with the Green Nazis. The only benefit I see from this in the near future is that we would start building the infrastructure necessary for a hydrogen economy to take hold and then hopefully some time in the future once the power problem is solved (fusion once it's ready in 50 years maybe?) the transition will be a lot smoother. But as it stands right now it's just a cool concept with little practicality.

RE: the real issue
By The Raven on 5/7/2010 1:55:38 PM , Rating: 2
Wait, you're forgetting... hydrogen IS natural gas!

From Wikipedia:
Hydrogen gas is produced by some bacteria and algae and is a natural component of flatus, as is methane, itself a hydrogen source of increasing importance.

Yes I know. Immature.

RE: the real issue
By HotFoot on 5/7/2010 2:02:12 PM , Rating: 2
At first, I'm tempted to think that wind/solar (let's not talk about cost just yet) might be well put to work driving electrolysis units. The intermittent nature of the power supply wouldn't matter so much as it's all going into a form of battery - H2.

But that runs into problems. Wind/solar are inherently distributed. H2 is one of (or the?) worst gasses to transport by any means. This leaves us with the option of perhaps a home unit that would fill some kind of H2 cartridge and you could swap that into your vehicle.

I just don't see it as an economical solution, but it would have been nice to alleviate the wind/solar power supply inconsistency issue and make use of zero-emissions technology for the sake of clean air in our urban centres.

What I've just described really only amounts to batteries that use H2/fuel cells rather than something else that's probably better.

By Mojo the Monkey on 5/7/2010 2:29:23 PM , Rating: 2
Forget the revolutionary fuel technology, they put glowing blue wheels on the sucker!!! [sarcasm]

Seriously though, why do they bother putting such outrageous neon-glowing-wheel styling on concept cars? All it does is solidify the usual expectation about the concept; that it will never be built and/or will never look like anything close to the concept. Its like writing "SILLY CAR" across the roof.

RE: Amazing!
By Keeir on 5/7/2010 3:05:11 PM , Rating: 2
I think you answered you own question.

How much grief would it have saved GM if the original Volt concept was clearly unproducable, rather than slightly unproducable?

Lets face it, the First Mass Market FCV is likely to be as boring (or even more boring) than the Honda Clarity...

RE: Amazing!
By Mojo the Monkey on 5/7/2010 3:31:03 PM , Rating: 2
But then why present the features in an outrageous exterior design at all? These cars are intended to stir emotion/imagination/excitement, which then inevitably leads to repeated disappointment in the final product.

I'm all for creative new design... I just dont get the silly extras and the repeated use of space aged 25" titanium rims with 1cm of rubber and 1.5 cm of wheel well clearance.

RE: Amazing!
By Keeir on 5/7/2010 8:02:25 PM , Rating: 2
A system can have multiple equalibrium points. Concept cars allow a company to start thier design processes from different point... and thus allow for a potentially different end design.

Its true, most "far out" concepts are clearly not producable nor really make significant movement in car design...

For example the "lighted wheels". For a "normal" car, this would be an obviously silly addition. The question is "Why add lights and redesign wheels?" If the idea is there to start with the question becomes "Why remove lights and redesign wheels?"

Its all part of the evoluation of product ideas. The ability to built product ideas to full scale models and get market feedback... priceless.

News flash Arnold
By porkpie on 5/7/2010 10:04:28 AM , Rating: 3
"California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and we can have it forever. "
Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe. Put it together with hydrogen, and you have gasoline forever too.

RE: News flash Arnold
By Murloc on 5/7/2010 11:36:04 AM , Rating: 2
you got energy too.

So, you got energy, carbon, hydrogen.

Make me some gasoline.

RE: News flash Arnold
By Keeir on 5/7/2010 1:26:07 PM , Rating: 2
Ummm... Murloc.

Your missing the point.

Just because there is alot of Hydrogen in the world, doesn't mean there is alot of free Hydrogen gas used by Fuel Cells.

If you create the criteria that
A. We will chemically create the basic fuel type by investing more energy in its creation than we can extract by using it
B. We will look towards using elements that have high abundance on our world/universe.

Then that opens up lots and lots of venues.... which Hydrogen might not be the best one.

Its condition A. thats a real killer, and the fundamental reason I dislike the Hydrogen economy. Currently we have very little acceptable options to create the energy we will need sustainably make Hydrogen... and using NG is just trading one finate resource for another...

By thrust2night on 5/8/2010 12:53:59 AM , Rating: 2
All well and good... but do the brakes work?

RE: Hmmm
By FaceMaster on 5/9/2010 7:04:28 AM , Rating: 2
...and can it run during a time of crysis?

Before or after subsidies?
By nafhan on 5/7/2010 10:12:32 AM , Rating: 2
Masuda said, "Our target is, we don’t lose money with introduction of the vehicle. Production cost should be covered within the price of the vehicle."
I'm guessing that when they talk about price of the vehicle they're actually meaning price of the vehicle plus government subsidies.

Better than hybrids/EVs?
By ValorMorghulis on 5/7/2010 11:37:14 PM , Rating: 2
As with EVs, the electricity/hydrogen gas is produced elsewhere often times with fossil fuels (or nuclear or solar or whatever). The big question for me is which is more efficient and green, EVs or hydrogen cars?

Hopefully someone out there can enlighten me on efficiency, but I also wonder about manufacturing processes. There have been a number of reports on the use of rare earth metals in EVs and the damage processing and manufacturing the batteries does to the environment and the link to China where most rare earth metals are mined. Does manufacturing hydrogen fuel cells have any of the same risks? My (limited) knowledge says that the manufacturing of hydrogen fuel cells requires fewer rare and or dangerous materials which may in the long run give hydrogen vehicles a leg up over EVs even if their energy storage is equally efficient.

Japan a perfect market
By Phoque on 5/8/2010 4:03:14 PM , Rating: 2
I would believe if hydrogen is ever going to be 'widely' adopted, Japan ( and other like places ) is a perfect starting place. There are a lot of people over a relatively small region. The cost and risk of building an infrastructure would thus be minimized.

If it proved successful there, there would be better chances of seeing it adopted in other places.

new safety concern
By MadMan007 on 5/9/2010 11:09:31 AM , Rating: 2
Unintended incineration!

Great Idea
By texbrazos on 5/11/2010 1:20:24 PM , Rating: 2
GM has been testing hydrogen for a while and has a fleet of equinox they are using with sucess. They have moved into the second generation and reduced the size of the engine and components by I think 50%
I always here the cost of producing hydrogen as a factor, but just think about all the costs involved in producing gasoline, not to mention the environmental and health costs associated with it. In fact they use hydrogen in the production of diesel, in a process called hydrocracking.

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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